Many front-line staff lack support and training at work, survey reveals

Nearly half of front-line workers and their managers think they are
inadequately supported and trained, and more than half would fear
for their job if they blew the whistle on bad practice at work, new
findings reveal.

Community Care‘s website survey of more than 200 staff
working in the sector finds that only 54 per cent receive the
support and training necessary to enable them to perform to the
best of their ability.

Only 46 per cent believe their job would be safe if they blew the
whistle on a colleague.

Racism is also an issue. Seven out of 10 respondents claim they or
their colleagues have been subjected to racist behaviour by either
service users or other members of staff.

Working long hours appears to be the norm. More than 70 per cent of
staff work up to 10 hours extra a week on top of their official
hours. Only one in 10 say they arrive and leave work on time.

The survey shows that, from the staff perspective, only 55 per cent
of employing organisations encourage membership of a trade union,
while just under two-thirds of those who do belong to a union
believe membership is useful.

Owen Davies, senior national officer for local government at public
sector trade union Unison, said he was not surprised by the
findings in relation to racism, long hours and whistle-blowing.

Although some employers recognised the value and benefits of trade
union membership, he said others tried to weaken the unions “for
reasons of either ignorance or malice”.

The survey also shows that one-third of respondents are now
co-located with other professionals, of whom more than
three-quarters say the change has improved joint working. The move
reflects the government’s push for greater integration.

Improved pay offer tabled

The deadlock between unions and employers over the pay deal for
local government workers could be broken after employers improved
their offer to staff at a meeting in London last week. The
employers have replaced their offer of 7 per cent over three years
with a rise of 2.75 per cent in 2004, followed by 2.95 per cent in
2005 and in 2006. Members will vote on the offer next month.

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